Today’s post is brought to you by Lily Allen. Play this song while reading along and it will feel just like you’re there with me (cuz it was in my head the entire time)!
I’ve gone on a hot air balloon ride before, but as fun as it was, it was a bit of a bust with us not actually traveling anywhere. But I have higher hopes here. Serengeti Balloon Safaris is the only company to offer this experience, and they charge accordingly. I have to pay $540, by far the most expensive hot air balloon ride you can take, but worth it if you have the cash to spare (I don’t, but it’s once in a life time, so what can you do?). It’s not worth it to Amy so she sleeps in this morning and I go on my own.
A driver picks me up at 5am in the dark and we grab a few others on our way to the launch site. It’s dark so my photos are a bit blurry. Can you tell how tired I am?
This is the most unusual way to get into the balloon that I’ve seen. The basket lies on its side and we climb in, then as the balloon fills up, we’re quickly tipped upright.
And we’re off!
Almost right out of the gate, we see a mamma lion and her cubs!
And hippos, including this guy walking around. A hippos skin is super sensitive to the sunlight, so they only get out of the water at night. This guy is running a bit late!
The sunrise is absolutely incredible this morning.
I can’t get over how beautiful everything looks from up here!
These lions are so interested in the weird things flying overhead.
And then…a mamma cheetah and her 5 cubs! The babies are hard to see, but they are so cute and fluffy (mamma is lucky I’m high in the sky or she’d be missing a baby and I’d have a new kitty)!
The flight lasts for over an hour and we see so much. Even so, I wish it could last longer. Not to be greedy or anything, but I want to see more animals! The thrill of spotting a wild animal in the distance and watching it go about its everyday life is just so much fun. I hope everyone can experience something like it.
Soon it’s time to land and begin our champagne breakfast! We sit back down in the basket in case we tip over when we hit the ground, but our pilot keeps us upright.
Before we toast, the pilots explain to us the history of serving champagne after hot air balloon flights. Apparently when the first balloonists would land, the natives would be very suspicious of them, so on the French King’s command, they would serve them champagne as a peace offering. It’s been a tradition ever since (so they say)!
We drive a few hundred yards away to where they’ve set up our breakfast tables. They even have a place for us to wash our hands! And can I just say, how cool is it that we are about to eat breakfast in the middle of the Serengeti Plains?! I didn’t get a picture, but a couple giraffes wander by as we’re washing up. Where else is that going to happen?
And just in case you need to use the bathroom, they have kindly provided us with a “loo with a view”! Just make sure you flip over the sign so everyone knows you’re in there.
We’re served a traditional English breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans, sausage, bacon and potatoes. And of course, more champagne (it’s actually cava, as a couple from Belgium point out, but it’s still delish)!
I have to admit, as amazing as the hot air balloon ride was, breakfast might actually be my favorite part. There are people from all over the world doing this trip, and when we sit down at breakfast I find it absolutely fascinating to hear their stories. There’s the couple from Belgium mentioned above who are traveling with their kids, a couple from Ireland who now live in Vancouver B.C (right near me!) doing a safari as part of their honeymoon and two girls, one Aussie and one Irish who have just come from Uganda (where they did a gorilla safari and went white water rafting on the Nile, which now has Uganda much higher on my travel bucket list) and were headed to Kilimanjaro. Interestingly, the Irish girl actually went to school with the wife of the Irish couple on their honeymoon. It really is a small world!
I had a lot of fun imparting tips for Kilimanjaro to those girls, since they were a bit nervous about it. I hope they made it! If you have the cash (or credit card space like me), I highly recommend this safari add-on. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my trip!